– Words by Sean McIntyre Photography by Don Denton
The historic seaside community of Ladysmith—the Vancouver Island town long known for its dazzling downtown display of Christmas lights and as the childhood home of actress Pamela Anderson—has grown into a worthy destination for visitors and a wonderful place to call home, whatever the time of year.
“It feels as though the people who live here care to make it nice,” says Bailey Dill, co-owner of Juniper and Sage Decor. “They don’t make it nice to get tourism, they make it warm, friendly, welcoming, inviting and hospitable because they want to live in a beautiful place. And you can definitely feel that here in Ladysmith.”
Be it the community’s scenic waterfront park, historic architecture, wooded hiking trails or eclectic array of home-grown businesses, Ladysmith has come to embody an authentic Vancouver Island experience that’s well worth the short detour off the Island Highway.
Juniper and Sage Decor is a newly rebranded business at the foot of 1st Avenue, Ladysmith’s prime commercial street and home to many of the shops and eateries that have helped put the town on the map.
The new name and fresh look represent the evolution of Black Door Decor, which was a well-known and much-loved retail fixture in downtown Ladysmith for 16 years. Bailey, along with his business partner and mom, Melanie Clunk, own the new business equally and operate it jointly. In keeping with the community’s small-town vibe, Melanie has known the former owner since the original business was started, and Bailey attended the same schools as the previous owner’s daughters.
Juniper and Sage Decor specializes in high-quality, one-of-a-kind home decor items and accessories. Special emphasis is placed on island-made and sustainably produced products, although the store also features intriguing items from across Canada and around the world. There are artisanal polished whiskey rocks, hand-crafted soaps and candles, spa and skin products, as well as top-notch bedding and blinds. Every product has a story. The shop really feels as though it has something for everyone and exudes an atmosphere that encourages browsing.
“It’s all about connection in our industry,” Bailey says. “A lot of people come to our store to decompress, sniff some lovely candles and forget about their worries for the time being. We often offer a nice sample of our hot tea and chat about local events and happenings. We can share new products and tell the story of how they are made.
“I try to encourage as much social interaction as I can, as I feel it seems lacking in our world these days. Our shop makes you feel like family when you come in; we often have our grandmother here just hanging out chatting and offering jokes to people shopping.”
The Juniper and Sage Decor moniker grew organically from the duo’s original company, Juniper and Sage Teas, a venture that has expanded to include a line of essential oils. Bailey and Melanie devoted a good part of this past spring to navigating the rebrand of the store as well as the company’s social media and online presence to reflect the new name.
“We are still just in the process of creating our online space, and it only features a fraction of the items for sale in our store,” Bailey says. “It has not changed our methodology as of yet, and we hope it showcases some of our favourite items while encouraging customers to browse in our brick-and-mortar location.”
Bailey and Melanie fully intend to buck the trend of online and big box shopping by offering a personal shopping experience rooted in community. The son-and-mother team plan to host regular in-store events—some designed exclusively for women or men. They’ll also feature gatherings centred around particular products, such as teas or aromatherapy, so people can learn more about items featured in the store.
“We’re open to all sorts of ideas; we just want to be a great community location,” Bailey says.
For Bailey, who took on a director position with the Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce in April, the brick-and-mortar business model is at the core of why he returned to Ladysmith, and it’s why he’s so proud to call the growing seaside community home.
“I have done much travelling and lived in many other places, but I always seem to come back to this lovely town. It still has a small-town feel, and many people will chat with you on the street. It’s a beautiful place and you can tell that the people here feel the same and work towards keeping it that way,” he says. “There really is a lot going on; people are lining up all the time for the bakery, the waterfront gallery is being redeveloped and the new brewery in town is a big deal. We want to be a destination, and we want to build up this community.”
For more details visit juniperandsagedecor.ca or, better yet, drop by the shop in person at 2-740 1st Avenue in downtown Ladysmith.